A New Attack on Religious Liberty?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted January 12, 2021

One of the great distinctions of the United States from other nations is this republic’s commitment to religious liberty and the free exercise of belief or non-belief. From the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657, a protest on behalf of a Quaker minority in what is today known as New York City, through the Bill of Rights and its First Amendment, down to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the rights of Americans to practice their faith free of being “substantially burdened by government” has been a hallmark of this nation over almost all others.

But a bill likely to be considered in the new session of Congress called the “Do No Harm Act” is poised to upend all that, reports indicate. The measure was introduced in the previous session and intended to amend the 1993 law (popularly known as RFRA) in order “to protect civil rights and otherwise prevent meaningful harm to third parties.”

The text of the measure, critics allege, essentially guts the 1993 RFRA bill by outlawing “an exemption from generally applicable law that imposes the religious views, habits, or practices of one party upon another.” Additionally, it posits that the RFRA “should not be interpreted to authorize an exemption from generally applicable law that imposes meaningful harm, including dignitary harm, on a third party,” and furthermore specifies that the RFRA “should not be interpreted to authorize an exemption that permits discrimination against other persons, including persons who do not belong to the religion or adhere to the beliefs of those to whom the exemption is given.” 

In other words, if a Catholic doctor declined to carry out abortions, that could be challenged by the “Do No Harm Act.” Should a Muslim school want to mandate certain tenets of its faith for employees, that could potentially be challenged as well. A Christian baker refusing to provide his services to a same-sex couple would likewise be in hot water. These examples are commonly brought up by avid opponents of the new bill.

According to one newspaper account, “By limiting the reach of religious freedom protections, the Do No Harm Act would make it harder for many people of faith to operate businesses, launch charities or share their beliefs in the public square, said Doug Laycock, a professor of law and religious studies at the University of Virginia. ‘This bill would strip the heart out’ of religious freedom law, he said.”


Religious Freedom Act Gutted?

Of note, First Things magazine reported that the “Do No Harm Act” has a prominent supporter: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who sponsored the measure when she served in the Senate.

According to the article, the issue at hand is Harris’ interpretation of the First Amendment: “In Harris’s tendentious reading, ‘free exercise’ of religion means ‘freedom to worship,’ and nothing more. If the doors of the church are not locked and guarded, or if you are not prevented from praying in your home, you have the full range of ‘the First Amendment guarantee,’ and you are guaranteed nothing more.”

Reason magazine, a publication with a libertarian view of political life, similarly asserts Harris’ unusual understanding of religious “free exercise.” Citing a 2014 brief Harris filed with the Supreme Court, the magazine reported, “The Constitution ‘protect[s] the development and expression of an “inner sanctum” of personal religious faith,’ Harris wrote, but not ‘the exercise of such inherently personal rights by ordinary, for-profit business corporations.’”

In response, the author concluded, “This is a bizarre vision of faith confined to mental assent and perhaps a few private ceremonies. It is unrecognizable and nigh useless from many religious perspectives, for most religious people believe our faith should inform all parts of our lives, including our work. In that case, protecting only an ‘inner sanctum’ is no protection at all.”


Time of Trouble Coming

These trends might surprise some readers, but students of Bible prophecy know that such measures—and more—are coming to a nation near you.

The USA in Prophecy Study Guide

Revelation 13:11 is one of the more interesting—and for some, mysterious—verses of Scripture: “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.”

Combining a lamb and a dragon seems rather odd. How do you merge a lamb, peaceful and harmless, with a dragon, ruthlessly bent on destruction? The Amazing Facts Bible Study “The USA in Bible Prophecy” will tell you. In fact, it identifies a familiar friend as this horrific hybrid—the United States of America.

The study goes on to prove from Scripture how, “speaking as a dragon[,] … the United States (under the influence of Satan) will, in the end time, force people to worship contrary to conscience or be punished.” We will see the very definition of “no harm” turned on its head: “For the time will come when … they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). 

Along with the Study Guide noted above, you might want to view our free video on “666 and the Mark of the Beast,” which explains the story behind the prophetic message of Revelation 13. Another useful resource is “The Beast, the Dragon & the Woman,” our free online book that lays out, step-by-step, what is soon to unfold.

If the government was targeting the free exercise of religion leading up to a transition of power, what may take center stage now in the new year? How far away are we from the fulfillment of prophecy?

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.
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